Elmhurst Hospital program honors patients, employees who are military veterans

November 10, 2016
Elmhurst Hospital Veteran Program Elmhurst Hospital has honored nearly 100 patients who are military veterans since it launched a Veterans Recognition Program in August.

“We wanted to identify and recognize our patients who are military veterans, and also identify and thank our employees who are military veterans,” says Mary Lou Mastro, President & CEO, Elmhurst Hospital. “We also wanted to educate our staff about service-related illnesses and conditions that military veterans experience, so they could be better prepared to take care of patients who’ve served in the military and their families.”

More than 40 employees, many of whom are physicians and volunteers, were identified as having military experience. They were given an American flag charm to attach to their badge so staff and members of the community can identify them as veterans. More than 2,100 employees have completed online education courses to learn different ways to address the special needs of veterans.

Elmhurst Hospital’s Veterans Council created the Veterans Recognition Program. The Council is made up of representatives from hospital administration, medical staff, volunteer office and staff from various departments.

To identify veterans, patients are asked at registration if they have served in the military and if they would like to participate in the recognition program. If patients want to participate, they receive an American flag pin and a bedside thank you card with a message from Mastro:

“There are not enough ways for us to say thank you to acknowledge your service to our country. You have dedicated your life to protecting others so we can live free. Elmhurst Hospital would like to recognize you for your courage, sacrifice and commitment to this great nation. Please accept this flag pin as a symbol of our appreciation. We salute you, stand by you and thank you for your service.”

In addition, a door hanger is placed outside the patient’s room to identify him/her as a veteran (“This room is occupied by one of our nation’s heroes.”) and meals are delivered on trays with specially designed place mats.

Recognition materials are delivered by Elmhurst Hospital volunteers, many of whom are military veterans, like Guilio Camerini.

“I had one patient say, ‘This is the first recognition I’ve gotten for being a veteran,’” says Camerini. “It makes everybody feel good – the person that receives it, and the person who give the honor.”

Elmhurst’s effort has been recognized by We Honor Veterans, a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), that invites hospices, state hospice organizations, Hospice-Veteran Partnerships and VA facilities to join a pioneering program focused on respectful inquiry, compassionate listening and grateful acknowledgement. Elmhurst is the first hospital to join the We Honor Veterans program.

Learn more about Elmhurst Hospital’s Veterans Recognition Program.